Oklahoma Sparkles in the West

OklahomaSo. It’s date night again. Dinner and a movie? Boring! Besides, the current love of your life likes dark psychological thrillers involving obsessive stalkers while you love a good romantic comedy. What to do? How can you satisfy such diverse tastes in one show? Well. I have a solution for you! Performing live at the Regal Theatre in Subiaco, from the 17th to the 26th September. Oklahoma!

The Music Theatre Company of WA (Musae) production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma is a vibrant restaging of the classic musical set in the wild west.

Oklahoma was something special when it was first performed on Broadway in 1944 because of the way it’s authors seamlessly combined music, drama and dance to tell a complex narrative about recognizable people struggling to overcome real problems. This current season successfully mines those themes and presents them in a way that is engaging, entertaining and ultimately uplifting.

You will be impressed with the quality of talent Director Adam Mitchell and Musical Director Ian Wistrep have assembled on stage and behind the scenes. A full orchestra in the pit supports a strong cast of performers.

The lead characters are likeable and well matched. They carry the audience with them from the very beginning. Supporting characters can, in less skilled hands become caricatures. Here they are remarkably nuanced. The comedy is natural and unforced. The villain of the piece works hard to portray the dark soul of his character but is hampered in this by an overly bright stage during his scenes.

It is important that lighting and stage design work together with the performers to inform the narrative and for the most part they do. The scene changes are smooth. The ‘revolve’ is a clever device that adds to the performance.

Choreography is a central element of Oklahoma. The dancing, particularly in the dream sequence, drives the narrative. Hesitance on the part of the performers undercut the tension required to highlight the conflict in the text. Overall the choreography is bright and inventive.

Neil Patrick Harris, in 2011, proclaimed that theatre is ‘not just for gays anymore’. While this may be true, it was delightful to notice the number of LGBT community members represented in the cast.

So, for your next date night, take my advice. Get off the couch. Turn off the TV and go see why Musical Theatre is flourishing in Perth. Go see Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is at The Regal Theatre until September 26th

Stan Schirmer 

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